American Son is an adaptation of the stage play, written by Miami trial lawyer, Christopher Demos-Brown, under the same name.
In current years there have been horrific cases about black men being shot by police officers. There have been video recordings of these murders and as Kendra Connor states in the film, “it’s their last line of defence.” What starts out as a missing person’s case for Kendra’s son, eventually turns out to be her worst nightmare.
The screenplay is written extremely well and even though it takes place in one location – at the police station – the four characters that interact bring many different conversations to the forefront. The discourse of family psychology, racial discrimination and profiling, black lives matter, police corruption and American realism are all discussed and the intention is to educate the viewer. Having an interracial couple, one a psychology professor and the other, an FBI agent having the discussion of being raised differently because of their race is extremely important dialogue. This piece was gut-wrenching to sit through because it explores every possible variable of how a young teenager, who has a black mother and a white father, processes how to navigate his identity.
The reason why this adaptation from stage to screen worked was because of the superb performance by Kerry Washington. There were a million things going through her mind and as a viewer, I was able to watch her thought process and attempt to understand her emotional struggle with this situation. The conversations that she had with each of the men who entered the scene were important and even though some of the discourse was contradictory, the conversations needed to be had. Everyone has the right to their opinion and everyone has the right to change their mind and learn from others.
This is a very important piece and I can also understand why people dislike this. American Son has the discussions in the grey area and nothing is quite resolved. The conversation can be had multiple times, there could be the exact same reasons at play but nothing is putting a stop to these murders. At the end of the day, innocent lives are taken and this film explores the reason why.